Rossi tops second Barber IndyCar practice

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Rossi tops second Barber IndyCar practice

IndyCar

Rossi tops second Barber IndyCar practice

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A messy practice session ended with a flurry of new fastest laps as the lead changed hands four times in the final minute.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou, fastest in the first session, came close to leading the second until teammate Scott Dixon shot to the front with the checkered flag in sight. CGR’s plans were spoiled moments later as Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi turned in a big lap in the No. 27 Honda to claim P1 (1m06.0797s).

“It was difficult there; every new tire run was interrupted,” Rossi said. “It’s all good right now and we need to see how the track evolves. I think overall, we’re in a decent position for [qualifying].”

CGR’s Marcus Ericsson completed the shakeup to earn P2 in the No. 8 Honda (+0.1393s), giving the team a 2-3-4 with Dixon’s No. 9 Honda (+0.2221s) and Palou’s No. 10 Honda (+0.2404s) close behind. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist completed the top five in the No. 7 Chevy.

Shortly before the halfway point in the 45-minute session, A.J. Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett spun and stalled exiting the Turn 5 hairpin, which triggered a red flag while the Canadian’s car was restarted and sent on its way.

Colton Herta was next, crashing at Turn 14 with 20 minutes to go while holding the fastest time. After bending the left-side suspension, the driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda was done before he could make a qualifying simulation run on Firestone’s faster, red-banded alternate tires, which could be a setback later this afternoon when time trials set the grid for Sunday’s race.

“I just went too fast and the tires weren’t up to temp,” he said. “Silly move; bit me.” Throughout the field, 18 drivers had made red-tire runs prior to Herta’s accident, and without a chance to make a run of his own, he slid down to P15 for the session.

With Herta’s car cleared, 10 minutes were left for final qualifying simulations to be made and O’Ward jumped to the top with a 1m06.7548s lap in the No. 5 Chevy. New session leaders followed in rapid succession as Conor Daly, Rosenqvist, and Palou took brief turns in P1.

Another red flag was thrown with four minutes on the clock when Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden charged the final corner, dealt with a huge slide and correction, and lost power for most of the front straight.

Newgarden managed to complete the lap and the track went back to green to give drivers a chance to post one more lap on reds. He also overcame a loose steering wheel to start the session.

Elsewhere, CGR wasted no time in sending Jimmie Johnson out for his first taste of extra grip from Firestone’s alternate tires. The IndyCar rookie posted a best lap of 1m07.8821s — good enough for 20th at the time — before switching to the black primary tires to complete the session.

TAKEAWAYS

Fastest Driver: Alexander Rossi, 1m06.0797s

Slowest Driver: Jimmie Johnson, 1m07.8821s

Most Laps Turned: 21, Simon Pagenaud

Noteworthy Mentions: Ignoring Herta’s hiccup, the Andretti team is impressively fast so far — a welcome change from the start of the 2020 season. Excellent showing by the returning Ed Jones, P6 in his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda. Same for Conor Daly in P9, who has been quick in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy. Not only did CGR go 2-3-4-24 in the session, but it did so with its cars in perfect numerical sequence with the Nos. 8, 9, 10, and 48. Nice recovery by Rosenqvist after his crash in FP1. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s second crack at taming Barber was no better than the first; Takuma Sato remained in P20 while Graham Rahal fell from P18 in the morning to P23 in the afternoon. Newgarden’s session was far from clean, but don’t let that take anything away from Team Penske rookie Scott McLaughlin in P12, who was faster than teammates Newgarden in P14 and Simon Pagenaud in P18. The Frenchman’s day can only get better.

UP NEXT: Qualifying, 5:55 p.m. ET, on Peacock

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